Battlefront: The Fall of an Empire


Caroline Restrepo, Writer

On October 31st, 2005, one of the most influential games in my childhood was released. I spent hours on end playing it with my younger brother. I wholeheartedly believe that it still holds up today. Imagine my glee when, in 2017, it was remade. What new perspectives might it offer? What could it add to the original game? I then realized that the price tag prevented me from ever hoping to find out for myself. This was one of the many disappointing aspects of Star Wars Battlefront II.

The original Battlefront games were excellent at providing a fun experience and telling a very compelling story. It focuses on the 501st Legion, the fall of the Republic, and the rise of the Empire, a genius decision for a video game. It worked its campaign into the already existing canon seamlessly, justifying its existence as a first-person shooter without bringing in a completely new and possibly unfitting story. It knew how to use the franchise it was part of and incorporated scenes directly from the first six movies into the cutscenes. The gameplay was fun, and the most rewarding part was seeing how your improvement paid off. When you did well in a level, you were rewarded by being allowed to play as different types of troopers. Eventually, you’d even be allowed to play as recognizable characters such as Darth Vader and Boba Fett. My favorite part is that the games knew how to build an atmosphere. From the moment you pulled up the menu screen, you knew it was going to be special. In Battlefront II (2005), you’d be presented with movie clips on either side of the screen while that classic Star Wars music played. It was simple yet effective. All the small touches they added made the experience very immersive, and it felt like more than just another shooter.

Ultimately, the largest flaws in these games would likely be the limits from the time they were created in. Using characters that fly was very likely to end with flying off a cliff or accidentally leaving the map. The graphics were also outdated and still had a habit of lagging. (At least on the original Xbox release) Despite its difficult controls and occasional bugs, it was perfectly playable and kept its charm. It certainly stands the test of time since there are still active players on the original games.

The same cannot be said for the 2015 and 2017 releases under the same name. The idea of remaking the original games was not a terrible idea. With the right care, something as fun and as intuitive as the originals could easily be made. However, these games followed in the footsteps of the movies that released around the same time. They were uninspired cash grabs spawned by a corporation that prioritized profits over art.

To start with a positive, the games are gorgeous. Every scene is like a work of art. The mechanics and controls in space battles also improved.

That’s about where the positives end.

Even before the full release, the game didn’t look great. It introduced loot boxes to improve characters, which was completely against the spirit of the original games. While you could earn and use credits in certain modes of the original, it was not a paid system. By adding loot boxes and an in-game currency for some of the primary features, Electronic Arts essentially created a pay-to-win situation. Well, that was the beta. Surely the full game wasn’t so monetary? Well, the loot crate system in the early access game was the same. If you wanted to improve a certain class of troopers, you’d be forced to spend hours grinding away at levels over and over or handing over money in a game that was already around $60 to own.

If you think playing as the major characters would be a reward for skill, think again. The heroes in the new battlefront once again required credits you were encouraged to buy. Complaints of “microtransactions” (systems of payment inside of already purchased games) from players eventually resulted in a 75% price drop, but the fact that prices were introduced at all was ill-advised. The results of these changes were especially insidious when one considers that all the additions needed originally added up to about $110 in all. That’s already upsetting, but it doesn’t even guarantee success. Players would still lose to those willing to pay more for better guns in multiplayer modes. It became extremely repetitive very quickly, and the story of the game lacked the immersion of the original. Rather than drawing on the (admittedly confusing) story of the movies to add a new perspective to those events, it introduced a new protagonist to the game and what was essentially a new story, not even a particularly interesting one.

While the originals may not be perfect, they were incredibly fun and will always have a place in my heart. The new games, on the other hand, were nearly erased from my memory as soon as their popularity was gone. It’s one thing to make a bad game. It’s another thing entirely to make one so disappointing that it pushes away both new and old fans until it fades into obscurity. Even if EA and Disney listened to their fans about these games, it may not fix the problem. The damage has been done, and the reputation they lost isn’t going away overnight. In other words, mission failed. Maybe they’ll get it next time.